Three-And-Out: Eagles-Redskins Predictions

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Player I’ll be watching

McManus: Emmanuel Acho. 

Chip Kelly says that both Acho and Casey Matthews have been splitting reps at inside linebacker in Mychal Kendricks‘ absence, but the thought here is that Acho will get the starting nod and the bulk of the playing time.

Before injuring his calf late in the third quarter against Indianapolis, Kendricks was playing at an elite level. He had a team-high 13 tackles against Jacksonville and has 20 tackles, a sack and three hurries in all. Billy Davis sent Kendricks after the quarterback 24 times in the first two games. He is the highest-rated pass-rusher among all inside linebackers in the early going, according to Pro Football Focus. Along with Fletcher Cox, Kendricks has arguably been the biggest difference-maker on defense so far.

He will not play Sunday and if we’re talking about a Grade 2 strain here, could be out 2-3 weeks. The defense will not be the same without him. There’s really no getting around that. Davis doesn’t need Acho (or Matthews) to be a standout, but can’t afford for him to be a liability. Alfred Morris is currently the league’s fourth-leading rusher and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Backup running backs Roy Helu and Silas Redd are both averaging over five yards per carry. It would be nice if Acho could get after quarterback Kirk Cousins on occasion, but the Eagles will be satisfied if he helps to keep the run game and short-to-intermediate pass game in check.

Kapadia: Riley Cooper.

The Eagles gave him $8M guaranteed in the offseason, and Cooper has been a complete non-factor so far. He’s got five catches for 37 yards; there are 143 players in the NFL who have topped that number through two weeks.

Cooper is averaging just 7.4 yards per reception and has not made a catch that’s netted more than 13 yards. Against the Colts, he dropped a pair of passes, including one in the end zone that should have been a touchdown.

To be fair, Cooper did draw a key pass interference penalty, and he got off to a slow start last year before turning it up. The offense has relied on the tight ends and running backs to carry the passing game so far. It’d be a nice boost if Cooper could make a play or two on Sunday.

Over/under: Times Nick Foles is sacked — 2 1/2. Whaddya got?

McManus: I’ll go over.

The Redskins’ defense is tops in yards allowed and sacks through two games but Jim Haslett‘s group has benefited  from going up against Houston and Jacksonville, which are not exactly offensive juggernauts. It should also be noted that all 10 sacks came against the Jaguars last week in a 41-10 route.

While it’s too early to draw any conclusions about this defense, it is safe to say that Haslett has some quality pass rushers at his disposal. Ryan Kerrigan has averaged eight sacks over his first three seasons and took down Chad Henne four times on Sunday. Right tackle Andrew Gardner will have his hands full. Brian Orakpo mans the other outside linebacker spot. Defensive end Jason Hatcher, who had 11 sacks last season for the Cowboys, notched 2.5 sacks last week.

Nick Foles was sacked five times against Jacksonville but was not brought down at all by the Colts Monday night. Washington will apply pressure. Foles just has to avoid turning the ball over when it gets home.

Kapadia: I’m going over also. If the Eagles end up losing this game, chances are it will be because their offensive line has trouble with the Redskins’ pass-rush.

T-Mac did a great job of laying out all the numbers. The key matchup is Kerrigan vs. Gardner. Gardner had some real issues in pass protection early on last week, and he was going up against some pedestrian defenders. Kerrigan is a really good player who could give him fits.

I completely agree with McManus’ assessment on Foles. Taking sacks in this game won’t be the end of the world. Failing to take care of the ball when under pressure, though, could spell doom.


McManus: Eagles 27, Redskins 23

First, a tip of the cap to my partner, who made the following prediction last week in front of the Colts game:

 I think this one comes down to the wire, with Cody Parkey nailing a 47-yard field goal in the final seconds before pressing his finger to his mouth and mimicking the “Shhhhhhh!” gesture to the fans in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium.

OK, the field goal was from 36 yards out and not 47, but we’ll let it slide. Good job by Sheil and good job by Parkey and the Eagles. That’s not an easy place to pull a win out of.

Logic suggests that the degree of difficulty will lessen this week  given the Eagles are playing at home and going up against what most believe is a lesser opponent. We also know football has a way of going off script, particularly in divisional games. Being around the Redskins a little this week, it sounds like they’re using all the national hype surrounding Chip Kelly and the Eagles as fuel. In a sport that is one-part psychology, you can see where Washington could have the edge in that department this week.

I wouldn’t be stunned if the Redskins grabbed the upper-hand early and kept it interesting throughout. The Eagles, though, are showing that they are built for the fourth quarter. Their superior conditioning and coaching will shine through, and the Eagles will improve to 3-0 despite an inspired effort from DeSean Jackson (assuming he plays).

Kapadia: Eagles 24, Redskins 23

Thank you, Tim. If the Eagles would have just been called for a holding penalty before that Parkey field goal attempt, I would have had a chance to really nail the prediction.

I think the Eagles are in for another close game. The Redskins’ defense is not as good as the current numbers indicate, but their pass-rush is formidable. Look for Hatcher to create some havoc and potentially cause a turnover.

The Eagles’ offense has shown it can get its act together in a hurry and score points extremely quickly when necessary. One of these weeks, I think they’ll put it all together and explode for 40+. I just don’t think that’s going to happen this week.

The defense has been up and down through two games. The loss of Kendricks is huge – both in slowing down Morris, blitzing and covering the tight ends.

In the end, I think the Birds are the better team and will prevail, but it won’t be easy. This feels like a Brandon Boykin game to me. Look for Cousins to have the ball with a chance to win in the final two minutes. But No. 22 will either break up a pass or come up with a pick down the stretch, and the Eagles will improve to 3-0.